Female Genital Mutilation(FGM) in Sudan

Female genital mutilation “comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” (Female genital mutilation, Februrary) FGM leads to infertility, bleeding during, pain sexual intercourse, and sometimes causes death. I found different possible origins for Female genital mutilation but it can be date as far back as the 5th century B.C in Egypt.  Nearly 90 percent of Sudanese woman go through this procedure every year. They say encourages hygiene for Sudanese woman, men think highly of women who are circumcised, and it makes the bride price higher.  With the bride price being high it will help poor families with the additional income. Some Sudanese say it also has to do with their religion who Muslims and say the Koran says woman should be circumcised. In 2008 WHO passed a resolution to put end to FGM.UNICEF and the National Organization for Women (NOW) are trying to stop FGM. These are organizations are to make people know the consequences of FGM through support, research, and guidance.

Professor Ellen Gruenbaum did research in Sudan where FGM is way more common. Her research showed that the more western civilization got involve there was more the Sudanese resist to change. “Gruenbaum shows that the practices of female circumcision are deeply embedded in Sudanese cultural traditions – in religious, moral and aesthetic values, and in ideas about class, ethnicity and gender” (PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision, 2012). Professor Gruenbaum research shows how to take a different approach to stop FGM in Sudan.  She wants to bring to light both the reception and the confrontation to change. Gruenbaum says it happens because of social and financial changes, religion influences, and woman not being educated about FGM. “ Gruenbaum seeks to provide an insightful analysis of the process of changing this complex, highly debated practice”. (PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision, 2012)

Works Cited

PANEL: Medical Anthropologist Speaks on Abolishing Female Circumcision. (2012, September 29). Retrieved from http://www.peacewomen.org/news_article.php?id=179&type=event

Female genital mutilation. (Februrary, 2012). Retrieved from Who Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/





Global Health

I picked global health because it has to do with the worldwide well-being. It’s the best way to make sure everyone can have the access to healthcare when every need. In lecture 1 its say global permits individuals to connect about health across great distances and this very important. I remember when I was younger to want to be a doctor and being a part of Doctors without borders. Even though I no longer want to be a doctor I still want to travel to different counties and help out any way that I can. Watching the video Dr. Farmer’s Remedy was very inspiring and yet heartbreaking. I am Haitian American and watching the video shows how important global health is.

If I was working for a healthcare provider who is not anthropologist it would be very useful if they did. It’s a great way to know how different cultures understand their bodies and their beliefs. For example the Medical Anthropology” -Tribal Jazzman Scholar, Episode #26 TribalJazzman  in  he talks about a woman from Peru who try stop the spreading of parasites to tribes through water way. She came to the villages and told them to boil their water to kill the parasites in the water and they said yes. Months later many people were still dying because they don’t believe in boiling the water; it had the spirit of the earth in it. Another example is about exchange student from China who came to USA and had been experiencing dizziness, fatigue, and etc. She later diagnosed with   depressive-anxiety disorder and takes her antidepressants for a while the symptoms are under control. She suddenly stops an anthropological consultation finds out why , in china her illness is considered stress related instead of an illness. So they change the name of her illness so she would start taking her medication again.

In the first scenario if an anthropological approach was taken; when the woman had come back it would be good news instead of bad. The second scenario is a great example of how anthropological approach worked.   If a healthcare provider took the   anthropological approach it’s a great way to build doctor and patient relationship.


Acne is a very much medicalized in western culture and advertisement has mad it’s a medical illness that needs medicine. Cultural influences like media and popular culture are what I believe reframed it into illness. In the media you seem people with “flawless” skin which instills the belief the viewer’s skins show be as immaculate as the person TV. Anytime there are countless number of commercials shown for acne treatments.. It’s not even seen as part of a teen’s life anymore but as an illness that needs to be taken of fast. I heard before with the acne treatments that are out there no one should have it anymore. Acne treatment companies make billions of dollars selling their products and millions are spent and advertisement. Also celebrities are a major part of getting people to buy acne treatments. “Jessica Simpson was paid six figures alone to appear in Pro Activ commercials to help convince the consumer.  The company spends about $125 million a year buying time for its infomercials on channels like VH1 and MTV as well as Web sites like Facebook”. (Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed)

The advertisement I chose to analyze is commercial the acne treatment Skin ID who has the famous celebrity actress Hayden Panettiere as a spokesperson. The advertising strategy is having the Hayden talk to the audience on a personally level and she even reveals her skin id. They also have testimonies for the general population so you can it doesn’t just work for a celebrity but it can work for anybody. The cultural ideology is that anyone can have clear skin if they just buy this product. Also it also speaks on the cultural value of having clear skin. The social roles show that having acne is unacceptable and show be treated at any cost. The commercial presents medical information through charts and comparing it to the Proactiv. The Skin ID showed dermatologist talking about how good the product. They have people who use Skin ID: they talk about how it helped them and show their before and after pictures.

Works Cited

Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed. (n.d.).



Life and Death

The meaning of “culture biomedicine “is how medicine is culturally influenced. In lecture 5 its talks about three cultural studies of biomedicine. First is the institutional history of biomedicine which means how medicine has evolved overtime. Second is the language of biomedical which is social values or ideologies of medicine. The last one is ritual of biomedicine which the daily lives of doctors or patients. Its important concept because helps doctors understand different variations of cultural diversity. A good example of this is book “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” which shows how a medical doctor not understanding another culture was very harmful.

My views on life and death came from many places like school, friends, family, doctors, and the media. I believe life begins when you are in your mother’s womb; your heart starts beating and when your brain can function. Talking about life reminds of the abortion debate and how some people believe having an abortion is taking a life. When it comes to death when your brain has no activity or heart completely stops I considered you deceased. Even though someone is on life support I still believe you are deceased because a machine is what is basically keeping you a live. I knew two people who were on life support but their family and friends considered them deceased. Life and death two concepts hard to make a definite definition because of the different views how it’s been debated upon at the government level.

Life and death is accepted as nature or true because inevitably it’s simple either you’re dead or alive.  It’s the cycle of life which cannot be ignored. But Life can  be prolonged if you take good care of your body.  It can be tied into in lecture 5.1 claim of universality which is direct reflection of nature and is the universal truth.

True Life: I’m allergic to everything

I am huge fan of the show True Life and have watched all the episodes they have produced. True Life: I’m allergic to everything are about two young people dealing with the never ending allergies. Raelyn is a seventeen year old female who was recently diagnosed with idiopathic anaphylaxis. She has petrifying allergic reactions basically to any kind of food she consumes.  Her condition causes her to go into anaphylactic shock and most of time leads her be hospitalize. Raelyn keeps Benadryl and epi pens on hand to suppress the reaction from getting worst.  End the end Raelyn goes to college and chose to go see homeopathic doctor since biomedicine hasn’t not seemed to work. Choosing the homeopathic doctor helps her out at the end. Zeke is a sixteen male  who has been diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis which is when the body sends at white blood cells to attack his throat if he eats anything he is allergic to. In the beginning the video he is any allowed to any seventeen different types of food. Zeke also has to drink hefty amounts of unrefined tasting formula to get the nourishment his body needs. Throughout the episode he goes through food trials hoping to expand his limited food group and reduce his formula intake. At the end he gets to enjoy bacon in a long time but his intake has increased.

The Quest narrative is the one I picked because it seem to go perfect with I’m allergic to everything video. Lecture 2 says with quest narrative the illness is seen as a journey and “opportunity to improve themselves”. Raelyn and Zeke believe in the future their illness will not have such a hold on their lives. The episode being showed on MTV has made their illness a shared narrative.

There was really no know stigma involving them but their illness was not understand many people.

Raelyn and Zeke both do take on some aspects of the sick role like going to the doctor to help with their symptoms.  They don’t use their illness to get out of responsibilities they do their best to make sure their illness does not get in the way.

The second lecture talks about the illness narrative and the benefits for the patients, family, and health providers. The patient also known as the suffer can make more sense of their illness and having a feeling empowerment. For the ones who listen like doctors, friends and family can have a better understand of what the suffer is going through.

RLS aka Restless Leg Syndrome

WebMD says Restless Leg Syndrome also known as RLS is “people with restless legs syndrome have uncomfortable sensations in their legs (and sometimes arms or other parts of the body) and an irresistible urge to move their legs to relieve the sensations. The sensations are difficult to describe: they are an uncomfortable, “itchy,” “pins and needles,” or “creepy crawly” feeling in the legs. The sensations are usually worse at rest, especially when lying or sitting. The sensations can lead to sleep deprivation and stress”. (Louise Chang, 2011) RLS have no medical assessment to detect the condition so it’s basically base the patient’s symptoms and answers to family history.  I have always heard the RLS is something that is made up so the pharmaceutical companies can make money off people. In Lecture one I watch a video on Madtv making funny of RSL suggesting it’s not a real illness. Culture and biomedicine can influence the illness experience for individual.  Since many people do not believe RLS is real the individual might not seek treatment believe themselves it’s not real. In return get the wrong treatment for RLS or just live in silence about their RSL.  Biomedicine can help treat individual if they believe they are suffering for Restless Leg Syndrome. It also can treat someone doesn’t have it but believe they have it.

I belief there is connection between belief in healing it has do with the mind and body. I remember when I was younger when I ever told my mom I had a headache she would give me some kind of pills. I later found out that it was basically placebo’s my mom gave me because she didn’t like the idea of giving me real pills. She told me after I drunk it I would say my headache went away. This is a good example of what was said in Lecture 2 about the placebo effect and how our minds create the medicine. The video Placebo: Cracking the Code shows a woman who says she has depression and is given “medicine” at the end she doesn’t seem feel depressed anymore. I believe the same way some can heal themselves is the same way they can make themselves sick.

Works Cited

Louise Chang, M. (2011). Restless Legs Syndrome. Retrieved from WebMD.

Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome(USA)

The article I chose to write about is called “Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome” by Cheryl Ritenbaugh.She talks about how obesity in the United States fits the definition of culture bound syndrome. Ritenbaugh says how obesity in other socialites is considered to be a sign of beauty and wealth. While in the USA it’s not considered to be healthy and can cause many health problems. It’s actually considered to be epidemic and a disease. “The  association  of massive  fatness  with  poor  health  that  had  been recognized for  hundreds  of  years  led  insurance  companies  in  the  U.S.,  at  the  turn  of the century,  to  begin  to  charge  higher  rates  to  extremely fat individuals”. (Ritenbaugh) She goes on to say “western culture shapes biomedical thinking can be seen in the obesity research literature”. (Ritenbaugh) . The article states that obesity is a cultural issue and western culture obsession with being thin. It’s says that the media plays a major role in the weight standards especially for woman. “It seems likely that thinness as a culturally valued commodity is related to the value placed on youth”. (Ritenbaugh)

The biological dimensions of obesity can be individuals in genetics or it can simply be consuming too much high-fat or high-calorie food. The cultural dimensions of obesity it can be the surroundings and the socioeconomic status. For example McDonald’s dollar has hardly anything healthy on it but it’s cheaper than the salad they sale. Most people would most likely go with the cheaper item than the more expensive one.  For individuals obesity can something genetic for them but it’s something that they can helped with diet and exercise. Some people don’t see obesity as a health issue so they chose to stay the way there are.

Obesity is being treated in many ways across the sectors in USA. There are diet pills, exercise equipment, weight loss programs, surgeries, diet foods, and behavioral therapy. It depends on the individual if they which route or routes to take. Americans spend billions of dollars a year on these different methods to lose weight. Despite all this money many people are still considered obese.


Ritenbugh, C. (n.d.). Obesity as a culture-bound syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.springerlink.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/content/r2434r5278261km7/fulltext.pd


A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul

“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and The Collision of Two Cultures” written by Anne Fadiman. Tells a story about a Hmong girl who has epilepsy and how she is being treated by western medicine and her traditional beliefs. The hospital failed to accept her deep-rooted traditional views. This book lead to Mercy Medical Center to adapted a policy allowing shamans to treat the Hmong community at the hospital. This program has strength the confidence amongst the doctors and the Hmong community. The article talks about how the Shamans must first go through a training program for seven weeks to learn about western medicine. This program also pioneered for other programs across the USA just like it. Incorporating shamans into the hospital will help patients seek western medicine when they really need something like blood transfusions, anesthesia, or surgeries which are very vital.

The Shamans are healers for the Hmong their really look to them to heal them if their souls has runaway. I believe their social statuses are very high amongst the Hmong because most Hmong will not go to the medical center if the shamans were never there. The shamans are not given the ability to use the full range of their techniques at the hospital. But they are allowed “certain elements of Hmong healing ceremonies, like the use of gongs, finger bells and other boisterous spiritual accelerators, require the hospital’s permission”. (BROWN, 2009) Shamans interact great with their patients and are very respected by them also.

The Shamans operate under the folk sector for the Hmong community at Mercy Medical Center. They use more a holistic approach to healing their patients and the healers are called shamans. The Shamans deliver healthcare in the medical center by performing “nine approved ceremonies in the hospital, including “soul calling” and chanting in a soft voice”. (BROWN, 2009). They understand and believe that the “souls, like errant children, are capable of wandering off or being captured by malevolent spirits, causing illness”. (BROWN, 2009). They soul is then treated through ceremonies to bring it back to the body.


BROWN, P. L. (2009, September). A Doctor for Disease, a Shaman for the Soul. Retrieved from The New York Times.


When the Bough Breaks

I did not do as good on the quiz as I thought I would I got a 5/10. They were a couple of statistics that were surprising to me. First is the American life expectancy being 29th in the nation I knew we weren’t number one (had a feeling Japan or China would be first) but 29th never crossed my mind. Second was the average life expectancy between countries in the USA is 15 years I was thinking along the lines of five years. Third was the question about the parking space difference in predominately white neighborhood and Black and Latino neighborhood. Though something like these never crossed my mind but knowing the information now it’s shocking. Last was a surprising statistic at first but when I really thought about it made sense is the best factor for health is wealth.  When you have money it’s easier for you stay health since you can afford it.

When the bough breaks is an episode which scrutinizes the phenomenon that African American women normally are significantly more likely to give birth to premature babies or have babies that are low in weight than white. Two neonatologists talk about how exposure to racism can have a factor on health. Even when factors like income and education are the same African American still give birth prematurely or have low weight babies. This episode shows and example of African American woman is a successful woman in good health but still had her baby two and a half months early.

Politics, economics, environment, culture, biology and individual choice influence the development can help the blowout and treatment of illness. In when the bough breaks talks about have racism is the reason African American woman have premature or low birth weights babies. In the USA we did not have universal health care as in other countries they do I believe politics play a major role in it. Since we don’t have universal health is harder for people who cannot afford healthcare and don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare to go to the doctor to get better. Some cultures believe don’t believe in going to a doctor to get help them have their own way to treat it. This also goes hand and hand with an individual’s choice not to receive care for the treatment of their illness.

Heart Disease among African Americans


CHD Rates


(Rahaman, 2011)

“Heart disease includes a variety of problems that affects the heart muscle and vessels. This can include hardening of the arteries, narrowing of the arteries, irregular heart rhythm and blood pressure issues. There are different types of heart disease and diagnosis and treatment is based on the type and severity. Both men and women can be affected by this disease and risk factors can be based on lifestyle choices as well as genetics”. (Rozanski-harlach)

Heart disease is prevalent amongst African Americans not because of a one reason there are a couple of reasons that factor in.”High blood pressure, diabetes, the incidence is very high, obesity, the incidence may be the highest, and even physical inactivity. When you put together all of these negative risk factors, you now set up a scenario where this group of individuals, unfortunately, is at extreme risk for heart disease, and in fact, that risk is realized on a day-to-day basis” (Clyde W. Yancy).  There are different types of heart disease for example there is coronary artery disease which is the most common type is the foremost source of heart attacks. Another is heart failure when the heart is not able to pump blood through the body as well as it should. We can lower our risk of heart disease by doing simple things such as exercising to main a healthy weight, keep your cholesterol low, drink alcoholic beverages in moderation, try to stay away from trans-fat, and etc.

I believe there is a relationship between health and genetics but I didn’t believe race in that relationship. Race is something that society created and like it was said in the second lecture there is no examination for race.  In the first lecture genetics play an important part in Africans developing immunity towards malaria. With them developing an immunity to malaria their health was not in jeopardy.


Clyde W. Yancy, M. M. (n.d.). Why Is It Important For African-Americans To Be Especially Aware Of Their Risk Factors For Heart Disease? Retrieved from ABCNEWS.

Rahaman, D. S. (2011, February 9). Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke Deaths. Retrieved from http://www.drsforamerica.org.

Rozanski-harlach, A. (n.d.). Define Heart Disease. Retrieved from eHow.com: http://www.ehow.com/about_5295098_define-heart-disease.html?ref=Track2&utm_source=ask